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Co-Founder of Smashing Magazine. Former writer, web designer, freelancer and webworker. Sven is now writing Science Fiction Stories.

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50 Designers x 6 Questions

Some months ago we’ve selected 50 prominent designers and design companies, contacted them and asked to answer five design-related questions, sharing their knowledge and experience with fellows developers. 35 designers have responded then. For each of 5 questions we've received 5 precise answers. The result was 35x5 professional ideas from some of the leading web-developers all around the world. Good news — planning the celebration of our 1st anniversary, we've decided to do some more math. We've selected 6 questions, which main purpose was to give fellows designers more insights in practice, and in the experience prominent designers gained during their work over the last 5-10 years. So this time we wanted it to be not about useful coding suggestions or clever CSS-techniques, but about the practical knowledge and personal experience developers would share with us and our readers. What are the things you should know before starting designing / programming? What things should you be aware of? How to get your project done? In fact, we wanted to take a close look at some practical answers to these questions - from the worlds' best designers.

First Three Questions

Since we've received many answers, we've decided to divide the article in two parts; as you might suggest, each part will cover designers' answers to three (out of six) questions. Here are the first three questions we've asked. As in the first survey, one single text line would have sufficed.
  • What is one typical myth about web-development (which is not true)?
  • What is one bulletproof method to get over creativity block?
  • What is one thing you wish you knew before you've started programming/designing/... ?

50 Designers x 3 Questions

In August we've contacted over 70 renowned designers, and asked them even more — six — questions. 65 of them agreed on answering the questions in time, however not all of them managed to send the answers till the deadline. This time over 50 world leading designers, developers and experts have participated, however, not everybody answered all six questions. So the result is ca. 300 professional suggestions and facts one can learn only from his/her own experience. We'd like to thank all designers and developers who participated in our survey and/or were willing to take part it. Among them are Eric Meyer, Shaun Inman, Veerle Pieters, Carole Guevin (Netdiver), Jakob Nielsen, Patrick Griffiths (HTMLDog), Oliver Reichenstein (Informationarchitects.jp), Meryl K. Evans, D. Keith Robinson, Jonathan Snook, Jina Bolton, Daniel Mall, Cameron Adams, Andy Rutledge, Carolyn Wood (Digital Web Magazine), Andy Peatling, Andy Budd, Christian Montoya, Garrett Dimon, Jason Beaird, Luke Wroblewski, Mike Davidson, Richard Rutter, Dan Rubin, Matt Brett, Paul Boag, Roger Johansson, Russ Weakley, Mark Boulton, Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain and many more.

35x5: Reloaded

Thank you!
  • Please feel free to post your own ideas, suggestions and tips in the comments. Share your knowledge with fellows developers!
So, let's move to the answers, shall we?
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Logotrend 2007: Leaves

In modern logo-design leaves stand for fresh ideas or - more generally - for an innovative way of thinking. In Web they are mostly used to communicate light-weight solutions as well as clean and unobtrusive designs. In fact, leaves, plants or ornaments which appear to be related to the nature can be found almost everywhere; it's a trend that will probably be reversed soon, due to an extreme overuse of the theme in modern designs. The sites themselves, using leaves for their logos, mostly do not have a relation to foliage - and even although often green color is used, that is not necessarily the case.

9rules

30Logo

Logo with leafes

We'd like to present you some of them. The following logos aren't supposed to represent the quality of logo designs with leaves, but the trend we observe on the Web. The images can be clicked and lead to the sites from which the logos have been taken. You'll also find tutorials you can use to learn how to create "leaf logos". Please notice that this post features only those logos which are related to the Web.

What do you think? Is an extensive use of leaves in logos a current Web 2.0 hype which will disappear soon or are the leaves here to stay?

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Corporate Identity Manuals & Guides

The protection of visual identity is probably one of the most important issues when it comes to developing concepts in which corporate identity (CI) is used. Both in web design and in print - corporate identity manuals are supposed to give designers precise guidelines on how logotypes, colors and typography should be used. Basically for one simple reason: to promote the visual identity in the most convenient, consistent and efficient way and make sure no mistakes are done. E.g. the logotype remains readable and the whitespace around the logo gives it the space it needs to breathe and be effective - throughout various projects.

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45 Excellent Blog Designs

Designing a blog is easy. Whatever engine you are using and whatever style you prefer, you'll always find a number of templates you can apply to your weblog in seconds. No styling is necessary, no playing with colors is needed and no mind jogging about content presentation is required. However, not every weblog should look like a typical blog. After all, not every blogger wants his or her site to look exactly like hundreds of other ones. In fact, there is a small bunch of creative, outstanding and individually designed from scratch blogs.

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In this post we didn't try to showcase some eye-candy (although sometimes eye-candy is indeed offered); the designs listed below were selected for their attention to small details. Pretty and colourful header-graphics doesn't make a good blog. The blog needs a solid visual structure, a profound hierarchy of site elements; it also has to be able to build some kind of a bridge between the content and its presentation. To do this, you need to think about precision, minimalism and sound use of illustration. These criteria were the ones we've used to select the designs listed below. All these aspects make the designs we've selected look... well, not always beautiful, but outstanding, almost excellent in their own kind. Mostly it's the idea the designers used to make the weblog as usable as possible - not the implementation of this idea - which we've been after.

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Below you'll find 45 excellent blog designs which impress with creative approaches and attention to details; hopefully you'll find new ideas you can develop further in your own designs.

Notice that the screenshots we've provided may give you a wrong impression about the whole design of the sites; in doubt you should take a closer look at headers, footers, comment-areas, site structure and further site elements. Please also notice that you can click on screenshots to get to the sites from which the screenshots have been taken.

We've missed something? Definitely! Let us know in the comments!

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(X)HTML/CSS Coding-Services

You don't have to do everything by yourself. If you are running out of time or simply aren't that enthusiastic about the coding process, you might be willing to consider special "coding services" to get your job done in time. Particularly since there are dozens of such services, the price is usually quite reasonable and worth the time you save, headaches you avoid and further projects you can keep working on. However, whether the result is sophisticated or not, is the matter of personal experience - at least it should be.

The companies and designers listed below do not design web-sites; instead they convert drafts and sketches (mostly in the Photoshop-format, .psd) into the (X)HTML-Code (with CSS-styling). The prices depend on the desired processing time. The faster you'd like to get the work done, the more expensive the coding will be. Some service providers offer optional extras - for instance, AJAX-Scripting and further interactivity.

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Wanted: Your 404 Error Pages

Every day you visit one of them. The pages, which don't exist any longer, have moved to a new server or have never existed at all. Once you've missed your intended destination, either through a bad or outdated link, or a typo in the page you were hoping to reach, you'll hopefully get an internal error message from the server. However, by default these messages aren't that helpful - after all, you are looking for the information, not for the reason you can't find this information.

Good news - it doesn't have to be this way. You can style server error messages just the way you style any other pages. It's not only a more elegant way to deal with errors, but is also extremely useful for keeping users on your web-site, finding new clients or communicating with the old ones.

404 Errors - Wanted: Creative and Usable 404 Pages

We'd like you to create a beautiful, functional and user-friendly 404 error page for your own web-site. We'll collect the most creative, usable and elegant solutions and review them in one of our next posts.

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Exploring Design: Outstanding Start Pages

Designers have only a fraction of a second to attract users’ eye and win over their loyalty. Clear visual structure, thought-out typography and moderate use of images are extremely important - as they can drastically improve the scanning process for the users. Consequently, to achieve a lasting positive impression, it’s common to make use of basic rules of usability.

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However, classical solutions can be boring; creative solutions can be appealing. Therefore to impress visitors, designers risk unusual and innovative approaches. After all, between standards and creativity there is a lot of room for design experiments. We observe these experiments. We explore new approaches. And we collect them, so you don’t have to.

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And since no page is equally important as the start page, it’s interesting to know, which approaches designers come up with, developing an innovative design for start pages. Let's take a look. Unusual, remarkable and outstanding start pages - in a brief overview.
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